What Organizing Isn't...

When I’m upset, I clean.

When I’m worried, or dread an upcoming event, I organize.

When I’m sad or mopey, I paint.

It’s fairly normal to respond to what you can’t control by diving into something you can. Outward surroundings do contribute to inner peace. Clutter and chaos in your environment (or circumstances) can pull and tug at your mental and emotional calm, especially if you place value in an orderly, organized, or clean environment.

Consider the reality of living in a world with people — humans — those messy, unpredictable, flawed, imperfect creatures who live in your home (including you and me). As long as there are people, there will be mess.

Let me say that again. As long as there are humans there will be mess.

Because this is true (and you know it is), I want to offer you a big reality check to your expectation of the magic of organizing. There is no magic. Organizing is about building good systems that fit you and your family, that support your way of life. Organizing is about awareness of your values and priorities. It’s also about self-discipline and developing good habits.

So I want to firmly grasp the “but I want an organized home” power-cable that is currently plugged into your heart and gently unplug it, by introducing you to myths you may believe about clutter and being organized.

1. I Can Achieve a State of Total Organization Not exactly. Remember the messy people? Life happens. Circumstances change. You change. The ebb and flow of life will come and leave papers on your desk, mud on your floor, and Legos in the hallway. Every single day requires energy to put things away, close lids, hang clothes on hangers, and file papers. Some days you just won’t have the energy. It’s okay. One or more area(s) of your home will be include some mess. You can, however, have good systems in place that allow fast clean up. You can also eliminate volumes of unnecessary clutter that hinder your ability to keep things tidy and efficient.

2. I Can Find the Perfect Home for the Stuff I’m Getting Rid Of When it happens, it’s satisfying but it can take a long time to “find the perfect home.” Finding a good recipient for every item you want shed is a time-consuming process that leaves you holding the bag, literally. One trip to a favorite donation center gets stuff out of your home and into the hands who need them. Trust the pros to effectively find new homes for your unwanted stuff.

3. “I Might” I might lose weight and get back into those pants. I might find the guy who can fix the latch on my Grandmother’s old jewelry box. I might decide to take lessons to play that saxophone. I might have another baby. It’s hard to say. You might not. Though none of us can see the future, we can look at the past. How long have you been hanging on to those items? Has it happened yet? Measure your future plans for current clutter through the lens of how long you’ve already waited.

4. By Keeping This Item, I’m Honoring the One Who Gave It To Me The only way to make decisions in this department is to know your value for relationship. When you have a healthy relationship with the giver of a memento, you may choose to keep it over other heirlooms simply because of the relationship connection and your desire to honor the person. There are times, however, when a token is thrust upon you, along with a heaping dose of guilt or presumption. If strength of your relationship with that person is sturdy enough to handle the honesty of you saying no, make your choice based on that. If you’ve lived with dysfunction and you know all too well that any hint of keepsake rejection will result in a meltdown, a family uproar, or perceived dishonor, make your choice based on that. Don’t assume you have to take on the item or that keeping the item gives honor. It’s possible to honor others without taking on their stuff.

5. If I’m Organized, I’m Better Life isn’t a competition or point system. Nor is it a magazine. Life is filled with unknowns, circumstances beyond our control, and changes at every turn. Navigating this life requires much more than organization — you need a core set of values that keeps you from being rocked when Twin Towers fall to the ground. You need a belief in something greater than you, your home, your job, your family, that keeps you grounded no matter how many papers haven’t been filed, regardless of what a guest thinks about your house when they stop by unannounced, or what you silently think when you look in the mirror. Organizing is about managing the physical stuff in your surroundings so they support you as well as possible, helping you slug your way, dance your way, laugh and love your way through this life. Organizing is based on what you value and believe. If you believe you were created with purpose, value, and meaning, you’re already better.

Organizing simply helps you do and be what you were created to do and be. It’s not the answer — it’s a tool. And it’s a great tool!

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